Has It Really been 7 Years?

Colon Cancer

The first time I did it was in 2005. I did it again in 2010. When I got done, they said I didn’t have to do it again for seven years! I can remember to this day the first time I drank the yummy mixture…in 2010, it did taste better. Even though it is not, and most likely will never be, my favorite medical test, I know that this screening is so very important to my health.

IntestinesWhat am I talking about? Colorectal cancer (CRC). I agree it is not the most pleasant topic, but CRC is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States - and Eastern Virginia was identified as a geographic “hotspot” for CRC. Portsmouth alone has the third highest incidence rate and the third highest mortality rate for CRC according to the Virginia Department of Health. Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk have high CRC incidence rates; while Suffolk, Newport News, and Portsmouth have high mortality rates. The highest percentage of late stage diagnoses and high mortality are located in Portsmouth and Newport News among African Americans.

Colorectal Cancer is most frequently diagnosed among adults aged 65 to 74 years. In the US, 1 in 3, or 23 million people do not get screened for CRC. As a consequence, 60% of CRC cases are diagnosed when the cancer has already spread to other organs and treatment becomes more challenging. However, 9 out of 10 people will survive when CRC is detected early. Inconvenience, discomfort, and fear are the biggest reasons given for not getting screened.

Professional colorectal cancer screening guidelines recommend women and men 50 to 74 years of age should be screened. The guidelines also recommend that the screening of women and men between the ages 75 and 85 be based on a discussion with their healthcare provider; however, screening is not recommended for persons over the age of 85.

An American Cancer Society study has found that rates of CRC have risen dramatically in adults younger than 55 years old. Three in 10 CRC diagnoses now occur among people younger than 55 years, and rates among young and middle-aged adults have returned to what they were for people born around 1890.

Since it has been seven years, I guess I will be contacting my physician to schedule a screening. Please contact your physician for more information on the different screening options.

~ Marylou Anton, Administrative Director, Oncology Services